A recent conversation with a fellow graduate of my Fundy U reminded me of a particularly striking metaphor for the real priorities in fundamentalism. If you were to stand in front of the Administration building of that institution you couldn’t help but notice a striking set of palm trees, straight and tall. This isn’t in itself surprising because the palm is the symbol the college, a testament to their marketing strategy of “fun in Florida.” Like most things at that college, however, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Those who pay attention will notice that when the weather gets cold (and it does occasionally do that even in Florida) the severely underpaid ground staff will be seen scrambling to put heater blankets on these trees to keep them alive. You see, the trees aren’t native to Florida. They’re imports from far, far away bought and shipped at great cost and they were chosen for their looks not their resilience or their authenticity.
I can’t help but think of how much those palm trees reflect the goals that fundamentalists so often seem to have. Look good. Be beautiful. Spare no personal cost. Do whatever it takes no matter how impractical. And if all else fails, fake it if you have to.
If only they cared enough about their students to offer them an emotional warm blanket when the spiritual cold sets in.